The lowdown: Pastures new
The 25-year-old directly contributed to 29 goals in 67 outings during his time at Leeds and was a key figure as Jesse Marsch’s side avoided relegation on the final day, scoring in the 2-1 victory over Brentford to ensure top-flight safety.
Despite moving on so soon after having played an integral role in the Whites’ cause, one heavily invested figure has lauded Raphinha for his time at Elland Road…
The latest: Whelan praises Raphinha
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan – who works as a club ambassador/employee for Leeds – heralded the impact of the nine-cap Brazil star, who he believes will forever remain a fan favourite at Elland Road.
The 47-year-old said of Raphinha: “He gave everything to keep Leeds United in the Premier League. Even if he knew that if we went down, the fee would have been a lot more acceptable and affordable for Barcelona.
“I think he proved to everyone his commitment to Leeds United. He was a massive, pivotal part of us staying up. For that, I think he’ll always be welcomed by the fans and by the football club for that honesty and leaving everything out there on the field.
“It was a great pleasure to watch him, even if it was for such a small amount of time. He can leave now with his head held high.”
The verdict: Raphinha has been ‘phenomenal’
While it’s never nice to lose such a key part of the squad (Raphinha was Leeds’ highest-rated first-team regular last season by WhoScored), fending off the advances of Barcelona with all the lure and lustre of the Catalan giants was always going to prove difficult for Leeds and the Brazilian.
Ultimately, despite the debt-ridden La Liga club struggling to make their finances work, Victor Orta and Andrea Radrizanni managed to recoup a healthy sum up front for the balletic 25-year-old, who was recently dubbed ‘phenomenal’ by Tim Sherwood.
Last season, Raphinha scored 11 times and provided three assists in 35 Premier League outings, earning a superb 6.97 Sofascore rating. He won 5.2 duels, made 1.9 key passes and completed 1.8 successful dribbles per game to showcase a penchant for the spectacular which was apparent throughout his time in Yorkshire.
There is no doubt that the skillset and output of the versatile attacker will be sorely missed, but Marsch has already proven to be an astute operator in the transfer market, and there remains optimism that the 2022/23 season can be a positive one at Elland Road.
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